It’s night time. You’re walking home alone. Nothing can protect you. Scared? Don’t be. Five students from the University of Michigan found a solution. Why not create an app that allows you to ask your friends to virtually escort you home? The app, named Companion, as reported by International Business Times:
Enables users to request a friend or family member to keep them company virtually and track their journey home via GPS on an online map.
The idea sounds very attractive, because who can provide a solid safety for you other than your phone? You do not have to have anyone by your side to cover you, fight off the attacker or even call the police, because a phone can do it instead.
But unless you throw it at your creeper (hoping that it is the good old Nokia brick), there is little actual physical protection. That means that if someone wants to hurt you — they will.
Literally gives everyone a friend or ‘companion’ to ensure that nobody makes a journey on their own.
Literally? Literally??? NO, the app cannot LITERALLY give you a companion. What it can do though is create an illusion of someone’s presence with you while you walk home, which is the same as if you were hallucinating or encountered a ghost — which is more likely to happen than to be protected by an illusionary creation from your phone. If someone really wants to hurt you — they will, and no app can save your life.
The description of the app states that:
If the user strays off their path, falls, is pushed, starts running or has their headphones yanked out of their phone, the app detects these changes in movements and asks the user if they’re OK.
In no case should a phone be a reliable source for personal safety, no matter how good the app is supposed to be. And with the decreasing intelligence on this planet, the predators have an easier prey.
Combat the awkwardness
Huffington Post assures the users that any change in movements while the app is on will notify your companion and the local police of possible trouble:
‘Companion’ keeps a close eye on you by monitoring even the little things such as a trip, a fall or your headphones being pulled out.
Using a ‘Smart Trigger’ it then gives you 15 seconds to respond. If you don’t tell the app you’re ok, it sends out a loud alarm, notifying your virtual companion who have the option to tell the police.
Wouldn’t it be awkward if you were riding a bike on a bumpy road and the app kept asking you if you’re okay? And if you wouldn’t stop each time and press “yes” it would start an alarm, attracting attention of possible serial killers, and pulling you into more trouble.
The 15 seconds that the app gives you to confirm that you’re okay is also enough time for someone to grab your phone, press “YES”, stab you, drag you into the bushes, rape you, cut you into pieces and scatter them across the planet. How does the app know if it is you that pressed “yes”? The users suggest adding a password:
If the person’s really alright it shouldn’t bother to just quickly type a short passcode.
Another concern is how do you make sure that friends stay on track? All that your “companion” can do is follow a green locator representing you on their screen with their eyeballs until you get home. The process is really boring, and it is in peoples’ nature to move on to more interesting things.
Since the purpose of this app is to allow friends and family to “walk” you home, it should make you feel more at ease when you pass a scary-looking group of guys on a quiet, lifeless street. Go ahead, walk by them, feeling protected by your phone, and relax if they approach you, circle you up and nicely grin at you. Just ask them to hold on, get your phone out and press “I’m feeling nervous”. They will wait, like true gentlemen as you let your virtual companion know that you’re in trouble. Maybe chat with the guys a bit while your companion calls the police. Who knows, maybe you will be friends by the time the police arrive.
How useful is it?
This app gives you virtual security while you’re walking home at night.
Many users agree that the app has little to no impact on personal safety. The trendiest opinion is that the police will not be delighted with extra notifications, as most of them will be false. One comment says that while the app will not save anyone, it might help in investigating an attack. More comments here:
The Companion app creates a very vivid illusion of personal safety, letting you believe that you are safe while walking home at night. Is it true? Not so, since no alarm or 15 seconds will prevent a predator from hurting you if they really want to do it. Moreover, no virtual presence of your family and friends can protect you like they could if they were actually there.
If you really want to feel safe, then the ideal options are:
Call your family or friends to pick you up/actually walk you home
Carry something that you can use to protect yourself
Take the shortest and safest way home
Stay away from trouble. The best defence is your absence.
Stay safe and do not let illusions to fool you.
“Companion: Never Walk Alone — Your Personal Safety Service and Mobile Blue Ligh.” iTines. Apple, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
“A New App That Lets Users’ Friends ‘Virtually Walk Them Home at Night’ Is Exploding in Popularity.” Busines Insider. N.p., 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Rajan, Nitya. “New ‘Companion’ Safety App Gives Everyone a Friend Who Will Virtually Make Sure They Never Walk Alone.” Huffington Post [UK] 4 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Huffington Post. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Russon, Marry-Ann. “Companion: Tens of Thousands Using Safety App That Lets Friends Digitally Walk You Home at Night.” International Business Times. IBTimes, 2 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Strange, Adario. “This App Gives You a Virtual Security Guard to Walk You Home.” Mashable. Ed. Jim Roberts. Mashable, n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
Woollaston, Victoria. “Turn Your Phone into a BODYGUARD: Companion App Virtually Accompanies You on Journeys and Warns Friends and Family If You’re in Trouble.” Daily Mail. 7 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Mail Online. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.